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UBC Press: Ten Historical Moments

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2018

This is part three in a three-part series of posts celebrating University Press Week 2018. For more posts from our university press friends, visit the AAUP's blog tour page.

To celebrate University Press Week, we’re unabashedly celebrating ourselves, UBC Press! Have you ever wondered how UBC Press became UBC Press? Here are ten momentous events in UBC Press’s history. For a more complete history, check out “our history.”


The University of British Columbia Press (UBC Press) was founded in 1971, though our history can be traced back to the former Publications Centre at UBC, which had been established ten years prior.

In our early years, UBC Press published primarily in the areas of international law, Canadian studies, and the Pacific region.

Our first book, The Royal Navy and the Northwest Coast of North America, 1810-1914 by Barry M. Gough was published in 1971.

During the first decade, we published roughly seven original books, two co-pubs, and two reprints, the most ambitious project being the Atlas of British Columbia, edited by A.L. Farley which went on to sell 25,000 copies.

A transformational period in our history began in 1990 when Peter Milroy was appointed director and a restructuring of the Press began. Our books began to focus on areas such as Indigenous Studies, BC history, political science, and environmental studies (still major areas of focus today).

In 1995, UBC Press expanded to offer marketing and distribution for other publishers in Canada, as well as publishers in the United States and Great Britain. We also partnered with the University of Washington Press in a reciprocal marketing and distribution agreement that saw our US presence increase.

In 2009, UBC Press won the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award; in 2011, the Wilson Prize for Publication in Canadian History.

In late 2015, UBC Press purchase the publishing assets of Purich Publishing Ltd. "Purich Books" is now an imprint of UBC Press.

Beginning in March 2016, with the support of a three-year grant from the Mellon Foundation, UBC Press and University of Washington Press began developing a digital platform for Indigenous multimedia books.

In 2016, UBC Press launched its new trade imprint, On Point Press, which offers readers sharp, authoritative, and thought-provoking works of non-fiction.

Posted by Megan M.
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